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GMI Info
A Global Mapping International Newsletter Winter/Spring 1999


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New Mapping Systems - The Inside Story

Bill Dickson, GMI Vice President, Research and Development

GMI is pleased - and my development team is more than a little exhausted after man-years of work - to announce the new Version 2.0 of the Global Ministry Mapping System. I'm also happy to see the renewed availability of a new and improved retail version of Atlas GIS for Christian ministry organizations.

The Global Ministry Mapping System provides leaders with a tool to see the context of their ministry, not just in fixed images, but in whole new perspectives. GMMS includes a solid core of data relevant to the work of the Kingdom on a worldwide scale, along with mapping software simple enough for ordinary mortals (those not professional cartographers) but powerful and flexible enough to create new maps using one's own data.

We are deeply grateful to Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) for their willingness to continue the special pricing and distribution arrangements which have allowed GMI to make Atlas GIS mapping software available to the global mission community at greatly reduced prices - packaged both as part of GMMS and as a stand-alone software product.

ESRI has improved the Atlas GIS software in a number of ways. Atlas GIS 4.0 brings a good balance of simplicity, power and flexibility. One can be up and viewing existing maps in a few minutes, doing basic map editing in a few hours, and displaying the world in new ways with completely new maps and data in a few days. The addition and integration of Crystal Reports means users can easily view their data as tables and graphs without the cost and difficulty of using a database management system. Users can now import a wide range of geographic and data table formats without using external conversion programs. (This will become more and more valuable as national governments follow the accelerating trend of making their information available on the Internet.) The software has been rebuilt in a full 32-bit implementation, allowing it to deal with much more complex geographic data.

The huge data component of the GMMS is greatly improved as well. The statistical tables have been updated where more current information was available. Sixty-one countries had changes in their internal administrative divisions. The Language Mapping System - data and maps of the world's 6700 ethnolinguistic peoples, included in the GMMS - has been thoroughly updated with new data from the field and can now be used for publication without specific permission. Tutorials and other documentation have also been expanded and improved.

If they prefer, Christian ministry organizations may purchase from GMI the stand-alone retail version of Atlas GIS 4.0 (functionally the identical software as is included in the GMMS) at greatly reduced prices ( contact GMI). ESRI has expanded this retail package with a huge collection of U.S. geographic and demographic data that will be of great value to ministries working in the US. (Ministries will no doubt appreciate saving the estimated $30,000 it previously cost to acquire this data.)

For more information about mapping software and data systems see the GMI Resource Catalog, visit our web site at www.gmi.org, or contact the GMI cartography staff: by electronic mail at mapsupport@gmi.org or by the address, telephone or fax on the back of this newsletter.

And finally, a note about prices: We believe the prices listed in our catalog are a great bargain for ministry organizations (we only recover about 30% of development costs from product sales, with the remainder covered by donations). However, we do not want the cost of our software to be a barrier to evangelical ministries in the Third World (GMI's highest priority clientele) who otherwise have the manpower and computing resources for a mapping project. If your ministry is in this situation, please write, fax or e-mail me (bill@gmi.org) to discuss how we can help.


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